PULLMAN – Goalkeeper Gurveen Clair made an aggressive play in the 48th minute of Washington State’s match Friday against UCLA when a Bruins attacker broke through the Cougars’ defense.
Rather than sit back and wait for the shot, Clair charged the oncoming Bruin and tried to cover the ball.
But the ball was tipped away from Clair by UCLA’s Sam Mewis. Taylor Smith kept the ball away from Clair before scoring on a slow roller in a 1-0 win for the No. 1 Bruins.
“As the goalkeeper you make a split-second decision and you’ve got to go with it,” said Clair, whose name is all over the WSU record book. “You change your mind and you get caught in no-man’s land and you get in trouble.”
No. 19 Washington State (10-3-3, 5-3-1) remains tied with Washington for third place in the Pac-12. UCLA (16-0-2, 8-0-1) can clinch the conference title if it continues to avoid a loss.
The Bruins outshot the Cougars 23-6 and WSU managed just one shot on goal.
Clair kept WSU close with seven saves.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our girls because you have to execute a really fine game plan when you play against a team the caliber of UCLA,” Cougars coach Steve Nugent said.
“Every position they’re dangerous. Every player on their team, goalkeeper included, is involved in their attack and you’ve got to be on at every position.”
But the competitive game against the country’s best team showed that the Cougars are capable of playing with anybody, and likely did nothing to hurt their chances of playing in a school-record fourth consecutive NCAA tournament.
The Pac-12 is projected to have as many as 10 teams take part in the tournament and the Cougars still have a shot to host the opening round.
“Overall, I was pleased with our performance, but we are not happy with the 1-0 result,” Nugent said. “We are not a program that lives on moral victories.”
The Cougars will try to strengthen their postseason resume on Sunday against USC, before hosting No. 17 Washington to finish the regular season.
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